SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT BETWEEN 

THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 

AND 

GLYNN COUNTY, GEORGIA

UNDER THE AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT

DJ 204-19-212


Press Release | Fact Sheet

BACKGROUND

SCOPE OF THE INVESTIGATION

The United States Department of Justice (Department) initiated this matter as a compliance review of Glynn County, Georgia under title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12131-12134, and the Department's implementing regulation, 28 C.F.R. Part 35. Because the County receives financial assistance from the Department of Justice, the review was also conducted under the authority of section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. § 794, and the Department's implementing regulation, 28 C.F.R. Part 42, Subpart G.

The review was conducted by the Disability Rights Section of the Department's Civil Rights Division and focused on the County's compliance with the following title II requirements:

As part of its compliance review, the Department reviewed the following facilities, which because construction or alterations commenced after January 26, 1992 must comply with the ADA's new construction or alterations requirements: the Pate Building, Mallory Park, Selden Park, Ballard Park, Fire Station #7, Fire Station #8, the Public Safety Building, North Glynn Field House Recreation Center, Brunswick-Glynn County Library, and Massengale Park.

The Department's program access review covered those of the County's programs, services, and activities that operate in the following facilities: Neptune Park, St. Simons Island Visitors Center, Library and Island Players Theater, Fire Station #4, Glynn County Courthouse (Judicial Center), the Recreation and Parks Department, the Fire Department Administration and Training Building, Fire Department Headquarters - Fire Station #1, Blythe Island Regional Park, Blythe Community Center, the Department of Motor Vehicles Safety, the Georgia State Patrol Building, Altamaha Regional Park, and the Detention Center.

The Department conducted a program access review of the following polling places: Oglethorpe Elementary School, First Baptist Church of St. Simons, St. Williams Catholic Church, and Greer Elementary. This review was limited to the areas of the facilities used by the voting public: parking, the route from the parking area to the area used for voting, and the area used for voting.

The Department reviewed the County's policies and procedures regarding voting, emergency management and disaster prevention, and sidewalk maintenance to evaluate whether persons with disabilities have an equal opportunity to utilize these programs.

Finally, the Department reviewed the County Police Department's and Sheriff's Office's policies and procedures regarding providing effective communication to persons who are deaf or hard-of-hearing

JURISDICTION

  1. The ADA applies to the County because it is a 'public entity" as defined by title II. 42 U.S.C. § 12131(1).
  2. The Department is authorized under 28 C.F.R. Part 35, Subpart F, to determine the compliance of the County with title II of the ADA and the Department's title II implementing regulation, to issue findings, and, where appropriate, to negotiate and secure voluntary compliance agreements. Furthermore, the Attorney General is authorized, under 42 U.S.C. § 12133, to bring a civil action enforcing title II of the ADA should the Department fail to secure voluntary compliance pursuant to Subpart F.
  3. The Department is authorized under 28 C.F.R. Part 42, Subpart G, to determine the County's compliance with section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, to issue findings, and, where appropriate, to negotiate and secure voluntary compliance agreements. Furthermore, the Attorney General is authorized, under 29 U.S.C. § 794 and 28 C.F.R. §§ 42.530 and 42.108-110, to suspend or terminate financial assistance to the County provided by the Department of Justice should the Department fail to secure voluntary compliance pursuant to Subpart G or to bring a civil suit to enforce the rights of the United States under applicable federal, state, or local law.
  4. The parties to this Agreement are the United States of America and Glynn County, Georgia.
  5. In order to avoid the burdens and expenses of an investigation and possible litigation, the parties enter into this Agreement.
  6. In consideration of, and consistent with, the terms of this Agreement, the Attorney General agrees to refrain from filing a civil suit in this matter regarding all matters contained within this Agreement, except as provided in the section entitled 'Implementation and Enforcement."
  7. ACTIONS TAKEN BY THE COUNTY

  8. The County designates the County Administrator or his designee to serve as ADA Coordinator. The ADA Coordinator is charged with ensuring the County's compliance with the ADA and resolves grievances brought to his or her attention.
  9. All voting precincts in the County have voting machines that are accessible to people with mobility, vision, and hearing disabilities.
  10. The County's 9-1-1 system has built-in TTY's in each call taker station, and all 9-1-1 operators are trained in use of the TTY and how to respond to 'silent" calls.
  11. The County provides a TTY at its police department and jail.
  12. Sign language interpreters are provided to ensure effective communication in County Court proceedings.
  13. .The County provides assistive listening devices at County Commissioner and Mainland Planning Commission meetings in the historic courthouse. Portable assistive listening devices are available at remote meetings.
  14. REMEDIAL ACTION

    NOTIFICATION

  15. Within two months of the effective date of this Agreement, the County will adopt the attached Notice (Attachment A); distribute it to all agency heads; publish the Notice in a local newspaper of general circulation serving the County; post the Notice on its Internet Home Page; and post copies in conspicuous locations in its public buildings. It will refresh the posted copies, and update the contact information contained on the Notice, as necessary, for the life of this Agreement. Copies will also be provided to any person upon request.
  16. Within six months of the effective date of this Agreement, and on yearly anniversaries of this Agreement until it expires, the County will implement and report to the Department its written procedures for providing information for interested persons with disabilities concerning the existence and location of the County's accessible programs, services, and activities.
  17. GENERAL EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION PROVISIONS

  18. Within three months of the effective date of this Agreement, the County will identify sources of qualified sign language and oral interpreters, real-time transcription services, and vendors that can put documents in Braille, and will implement and report to the Department its written procedures, with time frames, for fulfilling requests from the public for sign language or oral interpreters, real-time transcription services, and documents in alternate formats (Braille, large print, cassette tapes, etc.).
  19. During the life of the Agreement, the County will take steps to ensure that all appropriate employees are trained and practiced in using the Georgia Relay Service to make and receive calls.

    LAW ENFORCEMENT AND EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION

  20. Within three months of the effective date of this Agreement, the County will adapt for its own use and implement the Glynn County Police Department and the Glynn County Sheriff's Office Policy Statement on Effective Communication with People Who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing [Attachment C] and distribute to all police/sheriff's department officers the Guide for Law Enforcement Officers When in Contact with People Who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing [Attachment D].
  21. Within six months of the effective date of this Agreement, the County will contract with one or more local qualified oral/sign language interpreter agencies to ensure that the interpreting services will be available on a priority basis, twenty-four hours per day, seven days a week, to its police/sheriff departments or make other appropriate arrangements (such as contracting directly with or hiring qualified interpreters).
  22. The County will continue to ensure that each police station and jail is equipped with a working TTY to enable persons who are deaf, hard of hearing, or who have speech impairments to make outgoing telephone calls. Where inmate telephone calls are time-limited, the County will adopt policies permitting inmates who use TTY's a longer period of time to make those calls, due to the slower nature of TTY communications compared with voice communications.
  23. EMPLOYMENT

  24. Within six months of the effective date of this Agreement, the County will review its employment policies and amend them, as necessary, to comply with the regulations of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission implementing title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, codified at 29 C.F.R. Part 1630. At minimum, those policies will provide that the County:
  25. Some of the County's polling places may be owned or operated by other public entities subject to title II or by public accommodations subject to title III and, as such, would be subject to the obligation to provide program access or to remove barriers to accessibility under the ADA. This Agreement does not limit future enforcement action against the owners or operators of these polling places by any person or entity, including the Department.
  26. Before designating any site as a new polling place, the County will survey the site using the survey instrument at Attachment F to determine whether the site contains barriers to access by people with disabilities in the parking, exterior route to the entrance, entrance, interior route to the voting area, or voting area. The County will not designate any such site as a polling place until all such barriers have been removed.
  27. The Department surveyed certain of the County's polling places. Barriers to access at such polling places owned by the County and the dates by which the County will remove barriers are noted in Attachments I, J, and K.
  28. Barriers to access at the polling places not owned by the County which were surveyed by the Department are noted in Attachment E. Within three months of the effective date of this Agreement, the County will request in writing that each of the owners and operators of the polling places listed in Attachment E remove the noted barriers to access for persons with disabilities within one year of the effective date of this Agreement. The County will provide a copy of the Department's ADA Checklist for Polling Places (www.ada.gov/votingck.htm) with the written request. The County will simultaneously send a courtesy copy of the request to the Department.
  29. Within 12 months of the effective date of this Agreement, the County will survey all facilities listed in Attachment E to determine whether the barriers noted have been removed. If not, for each polling place that still contains inaccessible parking, exterior route to the entrance, entrance, interior route to the voting area, or voting area, the County will identify within 24 months of the effective date of this Agreement an alternate location where these elements are accessible. That identification will utilize the survey instrument that appears as Attachment F to this Agreement. The County will then take immediate steps to change its polling place to the new location. Under this provision of the Agreement, the County will ensure that barriers at each polling place identified in Attachment E are either removed or a substitute accessible polling place is in operation before the next election occurring more than 24 months after the effective date of this Agreement.
  30. Within 12 months of the effective date of this Agreement, using the survey instrument at Attachment F, the County will survey all polling places not surveyed by the Department to identify barriers to access by people with disabilities in the parking, exterior route to the entrance, entrance, interior route to the voting area, and voting area. In order for all of the County's polling places to be accessible, within 15 months of the effective date of this Agreement, for each such polling place, the County will then either (1) ensure that all barriers to access by people with disabilities have been removed or (2) identify an alternate polling place with no barriers to access by people with disabilities. That identification of accessible polling places will utilize the survey instrument that appears as Attachment F to this Agreement. The County will then take immediate steps to change each newly identified inaccessible polling place to a new accessible location. Under this provision of the Agreement, the County will ensure that barriers at each polling place the Department did not survey are either removed or a substitute accessible polling place is in operation before the next election occurring more than 18 months after the effective date of this Agreement.
  31. Until all polling places in each precinct or voting district have accessible parking, exterior routes, entrances, interior routes to the voting area, and voting area, prior to each election, the County will identify and widely publicize to the public and to persons with disabilities and organizations serving them the most accessible polling place(s) for each precinct or voting district.
  32. Within 12 months of the effective date of this Agreement, the County will provide opportunities for same-day balloting for voters with disabilities whose assigned polling place does not have accessible parking, exterior route to entrance, entrance, interior route to the voting area, and voting area. The method for providing these opportunities may include allowing the individual to vote at another nearby location that is accessible, allowing individuals with disabilities to vote by an absentee ballot that is accepted if postmarked on the day of the election (or picked up by election officials at the home of the voter on the same day as the election), providing curbside voting at the inaccessible polling place, or any other method that ensures that voters with disabilities have the same degree of information available to them when casting their ballots as others. If curbside assistance is provided and a polling place official is not stationed outside to provide assistance to people with disabilities in curbside voting, it must include a reliable, effective mechanism by which individuals with disabilities can summon election officials to provide curbside assistance without leaving their vehicles and ensure prompt response and assistance with curbside voting from polling officials.
  33. Within 12 months of the effective date of this Agreement, the County will survey its voter registration locations for accessibility to persons with disabilities by using the form provided at Attachment F and will report the results of this survey to the Department. If barriers to access are identified, the County will implement and report to the Department its plan to provide program access, which may include allowing persons to register to vote through alternative means or at alternative locations. The Glynn County Board of Elections Office is currently the only permanent voter registration location.
  34. Within 12 months of the effective date of this Agreement, the County will make all voter registration materials available in alternate formats, including Braille, large print, audio tape, and computer disk.
  35. Within the month prior to the next election that utilizes the County's polling places, and at yearly anniversaries of the effective date of this Agreement until it expires, the County will train poll workers on the rights of people with disabilities and the practical aspects of assuring those rights. The training will cover, at minimum, the need to maintain the physical accessibility of polling locations; how to assist people with disabilities, as necessary; and how to operate any non-standard voting equipment or accessible features of standard equipment (particularly new, accessible equipment).
  36. EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT PROCEDURES AND POLICIES

  37. If the County contracts with another entity, such as the American Red Cross or another local government, to provide its emergency preparedness plans and emergency response services, the County will ensure that the other entity complies with the following provisions on its behalf.
  38. Within 12 months of the effective date of this Agreement, the County will implement and report to the Department its written procedures that ensure that it regularly solicits and incorporates input from persons with a variety of disabilities and those who serve them regarding all phases of its emergency management plan (preparation, notification, response, and clean up).
  39. Within six months of the effective date of this Agreement, the County will report to the Department its written procedures that ensure that its community evacuation plans enable those who have mobility impairments, vision impairments, hearing impairments, cognitive disabilities, mental illness, or other disabilities to safely self-evacuate or be evacuated by others. Some communities are instituting voluntary, confidential registries of persons with disabilities who may need individualized evacuation assistance or notification. If the County adopts or maintains such a registry, its report to the Department will discuss its procedures for ensuring voluntariness, appropriate confidentiality controls, and how the registry will be kept updated, as well as its outreach plan to inform persons with disabilities of its availability. Whether or not a registry is used, the County plan should address accessible transportation needs for persons with disabilities.
  40. Within six months of the effective date of this Agreement, the County will report to the Department its written procedures that ensure that if its emergency warning systems use sirens or other audible alerts, it will also provide ways to inform persons with hearing impairments of an impending disaster. The use of auto-dialed TTY messages to pre-registered individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing, text messaging, e-mails, open-captioning on local TV stations and other innovative uses of technology may be incorporated into such procedures, as well as lower-tech options such as dispatching qualified sign language interpreters to assist with emergency TV broadcasts.
  41. SIDEWALKS

  42. Within 12 months of the effective date of this Agreement, the County will implement and report to the Department its written process for soliciting and receiving input from persons with disabilities regarding the accessibility of its sidewalks, including, for example, requests to add curb ramps at particular locations.
  43. Within 12 months of the effective date of this Agreement, the County will identify and report to the Department all streets, roads, and highways that have been constructed or altered since January 26, 1992. Paving, repaving, or resurfacing a street, road, or highway is considered an alteration for the purposes of this Agreement. Filling a pothole is not considered an alteration for the purposes of this Agreement. Within three years of the effective date of this Agreement, the County will provide curb ramps or other sloped areas complying with the Standards or UFAS at all intersections of the streets, roads, and highways identified under this paragraph having curbs or other barriers to entry from a street level pedestrian walkway.
  44. Beginning no later than three months after the effective date of this Agreement, the County will provide curb ramps or other sloped areas complying with the Standards or UFAS at any intersection having curbs or other barriers to entry from a street level pedestrian walkway, whenever a new street, road, or highway is constructed or altered.
  45. Within three months of the effective date of this Agreement, the County will identify all street level pedestrian walkways that have been constructed or altered since January 26, 1992. Paving, repaving, or resurfacing a walkway is considered an alteration for the purposes of this Agreement. Within five years of the effective date of this Agreement, the County will provide curb ramps or other sloped areas complying with the Standards or UFAS at all places where a street level pedestrian walkway identified under this paragraph intersects with a street, road, or highway.
  46. Beginning no later than six months after the effective date of this Agreement, the County will provide curb ramps or other sloped areas complying with the Standards or UFAS at all newly constructed or altered pedestrian walkways where they intersect a street, road, or highway.
  47. WEB-BASED SERVICES AND PROGRAMS

  48. Within 1 month of the effective date of this Agreement, and on subsequent anniversaries of the effective date of this Agreement, the County will distribute to all persons employees and contractors who design, develop, maintain, or otherwise have responsibility for content and format of its website(s) or third party websites used by the County (Internet Personnel) the technical assistance document, 'Accessibility of State and Local Government Websites to People with Disabilities," which is Attachment H to this Agreement (it is also available at www.ada.gov/websites2.htm).
  49. Within three months of the effective date of this Agreement, and throughout the life of the Agreement, the County will do the following:
    1. Establish, implement, and post online a policy that its web pages will be accessible and create a process for implementation;
    2. Ensure that all new and modified web pages and content are accessible;
    3. Develop and implement a plan for making existing web content more accessible;
    4. Provide a way for online visitors to request accessible information or services by posting a telephone number or e-mail address on its home page; and
    5. Periodically (at least annually) enlist people with disabilities to test its pages for ease of use.

      PHYSICAL CHANGES TO FACILITIES

  50. The County will ensure that all buildings and facilities constructed by or on behalf of the County are constructed in full compliance with the requirements of 28 C.F.R. § 35.151, including applicable architectural standards.
  51. The County will ensure that alterations to County facilities are made in full compliance with the requirements of 28 C.F.R. § 35.151, including applicable architectural standards.
  52. Attachments I, J, and K list the elements or features of the County's facilities that do not comply with the Standards. It is the Department's position that elements or features of a facility that do not comply with the Standards prevent persons with disabilities from fully and equally enjoying County services, programs, and activities, and constitute discrimination on the basis of disability within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 12132 and 28 C.F.R. §§ 35.149 and 35.150. This Agreement shall not be construed as an admission of liability or discrimination by the County.
  53. The County will comply with the cited provisions of the Standards when taking the actions required by this Agreement.
  54. Within 24 months of the effective date of this Agreement, the County will install signage as necessary to comply with 28 C.F.R. § 35.163(b), after having surveyed all facilities that are the subject of this Agreement for the purpose of identifying those that have multiple entrances not all of which are accessible.
  55. Newly Constructed Facilities: In order to ensure that the following spaces and elements in County facilities, for which construction was commenced after January 26, 1992, are readily accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities, the County will take the actions listed in Attachment I.
  56. Altered Facilities: In order to ensure that the following spaces and elements in County facilities, for which alterations commenced after January 26, 1992, are readily accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities, the County will take the actions listed in Attachment J.
  57. Program Access in County Existing Facilities: In order to ensure that each of the County's programs, services, and activities operating at a facility that is the subject of this Agreement, when viewed in its entirety, is readily accessible to and usable by persons with mobility impairments, the County will take the actions listed in Attachment K.
  58. Facilities and Programs Not Surveyed by the Department: The County will review compliance with the requirements of title II of the ADA for those County facilities and programs that were not reviewed by the Department. Within 36 months of the effective date of this Agreement, the County will submit for review by the Department a detailed report listing the access issues identified during its review together with the corrective actions and completion dates proposed to resolve such issues. The review conducted by the County, the access issues identified, and the corrective actions and completion dates proposed will be consistent with the requirements of title II of the ADA; the review of County facilities and programs conducted by the Department for purposes of this Agreement; and the access issues, corrective actions, and completion dates reflected in Attachments I, J, and K.
  59. MISCELLANEOUS PROVISIONS

  60. Except as otherwise specified in this Agreement, at yearly anniversaries of the effective date of this Agreement until it expires, the County will submit written reports to the Department summarizing the actions the County has taken pursuant to this Agreement. Reports will include detailed photographs showing measurements, architectural plans, work orders, notices published in the newspaper, copies of adopted policies, and proof of efforts to secure funding/assistance for structural renovations or equipment.
  61. Throughout the life of this Agreement, consistent with 28 C.F.R. § 35.133(a), the County will maintain the accessibility of its programs, activities, services, facilities, and equipment, and will take whatever actions are necessary (such as routine testing of accessibility equipment and routine accessibility audits of its programs and facilities) to do so. This provision does not prohibit isolated or temporary interruptions in service or access due to maintenance or repairs. 28 C.F.R. § 35.133(b).
  62. Within 12 months of the effective date of this Agreement, the County will develop or procure a two-hour training program on the requirements of the ADA and appropriate ways of serving persons with disabilities. The County will use the ADA technical assistance materials developed by the Department and will consult with interested persons, including individuals with disabilities, in developing or procuring the ADA training program.
  63. Within 18 months of the effective date of this Agreement, the County will deliver its training program to all County employees who have direct contact with members of the public. At the end of that period, the County will submit a copy of its training curriculum and materials to the Department, along with a list of employees trained and the name, title, and address of the trainer.
  64. IMPLEMENTATION AND ENFORCEMENT

  65. If at any time the County desires to modify any portion of this Agreement because of changed conditions making performance impossible or impractical or for any other reason, it will promptly notify the Department in writing, setting forth the facts and circumstances thought to justify modification and the substance of the proposed modification. Until there is written Agreement by the Department to the proposed modification, the proposed modification will not take effect. These actions must receive the prior written approval of the Department, which approval will not be unreasonably withheld or delayed.
  66. The Department may review compliance with this Agreement at any time. If the Department believes that the County has failed to comply in a timely manner with any requirement of this Agreement without obtaining sufficient advance written agreement with the Department for a modification of the relevant terms, the Department will so notify the County in writing and it will attempt to resolve the issue or issues in good faith. If the Department is unable to reach a satisfactory resolution of the issue or issues raised within 45 days of the date it provides notice to the County, it may institute a civil action in federal district court to enforce the terms of this Agreement, or it may initiate appropriate steps to enforce title II and section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.
  67. For purposes of the immediately preceding paragraph, it is a violation of this Agreement for the County to fail to comply in a timely manner with any of its requirements without obtaining sufficient advance written agreement with the Department for an extension of the relevant time frame imposed by the Agreement.
  68. Failure by the Department to enforce this entire Agreement or any provision thereof with regard to any deadline or any other provision herein will not be construed as a waiver of the Department's right to enforce other deadlines and provisions of this Agreement.
  69. This Agreement is a public document. A copy of this document or any information contained in it will be made available to any person by the County or the Department on request.
  70. This Agreement constitutes the entire agreement between the parties on the matters raised herein, and no other statement, promise, or agreement, either written or oral, made by either party or agents of either party, that is not contained in this written Agreement (including its Attachments, which are hereby incorporated by reference), will be enforceable. This Agreement does not purport to remedy any other potential violations of the ADA or any other federal law. This Agreement does not affect the County's continuing responsibility to comply with all aspects of the ADA and section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.
  71. This Agreement will remain in effect for five years or until the parties agree that all actions required by the Agreement have been completed, whichever is later.
  72. The person signing for the County represents that he or she is authorized to bind the County to this Agreement.
  73. The effective date of this Agreement is the date of the last signature below.

 

For Glynn County, Georgia:

JEROME CLARK, CHAIRMAN
County Board of Commissioners

By: ____________________________

 

For the United States:

THOMAS E. PEREZ,
Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights

JOHN L. WODATCH, Chief
JEANINE WORDEN, Deputy Chief

By:_____________________________
NAOMI H. MILTON, Supervisory Attorney

By:_____________________________
AMELIA M. EDUARDO, Investigator
MICHELE ANTONIO MALLOZZI, Architect
U.S. Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Disability Rights Section - NW BLDG
Washington, DC 20530
(202) 307-0663
(202) 514-7821 (fax)

 

Date:          10/01/2009          Date:          11/02/2009         



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December 10, 2009